Since I wrote this, I have come to the conclusion that the more acquaintance I have spent with dogs, the less I think of human beings. The falling hair, the occasional loss of bladder and bowel control, and any inconvenience that they can cause me are paid for in the way of dedication and devotion. Of course, I am now going into that stage where my dogs are aging. As a matter of fact, my dogs and my mother-in-law are all the same age: 82. If you are not a dog lover, we'll never see eye to eye in just about anything. My feelings are that you can never be too thin or own too many dogs. One of the real downsides is the absorbent medical expenses. In my day, an M.D. was heads-and-tails above, in status and income, a veterinarian. But animal medicine is a big business today. A while back, my wife said that the dogs were acting lethargic and mopey. $3,500 was spent the first week and we never found out what was making them mopey.
In human beings, character and loyalty are generally regarded as one's most important assets. Dogs come with character and loyalty right out of the box. And they are, of course, very patient, which is good because waiting around is their full time job. Mark Twain summed up the dog pretty much like this: "You can rescue a flea-bitten, half-starved, dirty old dog from a pound or a junk yard, take it home, wash it up, & feed it, and it will become your friend for life. Therein lies the difference between man and dog."
Looking for a love? Want a friend? Buy a dog. Of course, in our house, we have some misgivings about dogs. I have quite a collection of oriental rugs and my wife is a clean freak. All in all, i wouldn't be without them. In the rare occasions that my Goldie has an accident, I can always tell that something is amiss by the look on her face. This is the same look that you will see on President George W. Bush's face. But like my dogs, George W. has courage.
The obligation of buying a dog is commensurate to being married and having children. When I bought my new home in Roswell, I foolishly kept one of my bitch's puppies. A jet black German Shepherd terror we call Dinero. Methodically, he ate every kitchen cabinet within his reach with his razor sharp teeth. Now, what is worse is, he and my wife have formed some type of morbid affection for each other. Dinero weighs 135 lbs., and is
unmanageable, except by my wife. He recently took a chunk out of my webmaster's thigh. He has eaten up several expensive landscape projects. And speaking of eating, he never seems to be full. Hundred pound sacks of dog feed disappear with alarming rapidity. He is so big, wild and wooly, I have to pay the vet "combat pay" to check him out. Next in line in our house in the pecking order is his mother, Goldie. Another old, eccentric, long-haired, alleged German Shepherd. When she was three months pregnant, she was fat as a house. She looked like a hairy hippo. I tell my wife to take the dog to the vet to find out when she would be having puppies. How she became pregnant is a wonder I had nothing to do with. The vet, doctor Beagle, put her on a diet, proclaiming that she was not pregnant. Seven days later, Goldie presented me with seven puppies, and a lot of blood and guts, on my white silk sofa. When we moved from California to Georgia, my wife refused to ship the dogs air freight. She forced me to buy a Toyota 4-Runner and hire a driver to chauffeur the four furbags and my son 2900 miles. By the way, the dogs really enjoy Best Western hotels.
When you buy a dog you have an obligation to secure that dog's future, whenever that may cumulate. You are responsible for their feeding, grooming, medical, and entertainment... it is a freaking nightmare. Speaking of entertainment, the reason that we kept the puppy Dinero was because of my wife's reasoning. Poor Goldie would be alone all day and we should keep one as her companion. Truth is that both of these dogs cling to us like drowning men on a raft. They don't like eachother, they both look to us to shower them with attention. That is the problem with dogs. Dogs give unconditional love, and they want the same thing from us. Furthermore, dogs don't want dogs, they want humans!
The bottom line is that we are talking commitment with a bag of fur with no end of emotional baggage. One of our clients is a dog psychologist, she does terrific. My dogs went through a day dyspepsia, where they both threw up large amounts of mixed up food and stomach acid on my fine Persian rugs. Forget about it. A couple of times they have gotten loose and terrorized all of my neighbors. The problem is so bad in Atlanta, believe it or not they actually have a dog court. My wife and I received a severe tongue-lashing from the judge last time we were there. The judge wanted to put someone in the slammer- preferably me, the owner of these unmanageable mongrel miscreants.
On the bright side, if your soul is so impoverished that you need unconditional love, get a dog. As soon as my wife and I get close, he then licks us. I don't know... I say go it alone! Tell you what else, they carry all types of diseases. Allergies, ticks, parasites, worms. Unconditional love and unconditional disease carriers. When they get old, all you have is a scrawny, senile, blind, deaf, shriveled-up, scrawny, incontinent, biter who lashes out at everyone that gets in their way and breaks the bank account. I am afraid that someone is going to invent a nursing home for dogs. That will take the rest of my life savings. After a $5000 rug is ruined, you really start to question the unconditional love.
In a final act of effrontery, Dinero, in effort to prove his superiority and establish his position in my home as the alpha dog, knocked over our birdcage, and ate the bird that had been a constant companion to my wife for ten years. The next morning all that she found was a foot, and some feathers.
Finally, my gauge fixed on a dog that was sitting on a rise and defending it. All I could see was a mouth with teeth. When I pointed him out, the proprietor said, "Oh, that's Rommel, he's a tough one all right." I told that proprietor that he was the dog I was interested in, and he asked "are you sure, it's not easy getting those dogs out of there." I didn't understand that statement, because if I was a dog, all I would want to do would be to get out of there. He went in, and all of a sudden the barking stopped. All I could see was him, covered with dogs. He was kicking and punching these dogs out of the way, all the while taking Rommel out, dragging him by the collar. Rommel seemed pretty calm, as soon as he was away from the hoard, and he was painfully thin, but had good bone structure. The proprietor told me that $100 was a steal for this dog, and I could re-sell him to a junkyard for twice that amount. All during that time, Rommel was licking my hand, his face with a look of desperation, asking me not to return him to the pit. I took a hundred dollar bill out of my pocket, and Rommel was ours. The proprietor actually had the nerve to ask me for eight and a half dollars in sales tax, and if I paid it, he said he would give me ten dollars worth of food. At that time, I couldn't imagine what I could feed this dog that could be any worse than the diet he was on now. I was thinking about how the leather upholstery would fair in my 1960, fire-engine red with white interior, Cadillac El Dorado. Rommel's rear-end was wet and matted down with the remnants of his "special" diet. I inquired whether they had delivery to Beverly Hills, he said that he had a part time man that did it occasionally, but that it would cost $100. Believe it or not, in 1960, $100 was a lot of money. Like an imbecile, I declined the best deal he had to offer me that day.
On the way home, it appeared that the dog had an attack of dysentery. I glanced at the back long enough to wonder what Cadillac would charge me for a new interior. As usual, the Riverside freeway was jammed, and the stench in the car was making me nauseous. With grim determination, I gripped the steering wheel and forged ahead, air conditioning on high, windows open. I figured the interior would cost about $500. I wasn't sure if the stench would ever be gone. It seemed to permeate the molecular structure of the metal. I worried that it had also permeated the molecular structure of my skin. But the worst was yet to come. I pulled up to my house to surprise my significant other with this heinous gift. Rommel met her with an alarming snarl. This was hate at first sight personified. That evening I would have had rose chicken for supper, except that when my roommate was finished with the chicken, she put it on the counter. Of course, the only other one to eat chicken that night was Rommel.
Before we retired for the night, my gal suggested that we put Rommel in the backyard. We tried that for awhile, but Rommel howled at the moon nonstop at the top of his lungs. It seemed unbelievable that he would not be much happier than our yard, after being liberated from the Auschwitz for dogs he had currently occupied. Fearing that the neighbors would call the police, I gave in and let the dog into the house... another terrible mistake. I read somewhere that a dog would not soil his living quarters, so I tethered Rommel to the foot of our bed. The next morning, I awoke to a situation commensurate with a ten on the Richter Scale. When I put my foot over the bed, the first thing to greet me was Rommel, licking my feet. I woke up feeling love, which was nice. When I put my other foot down, I was greeted with a terrible feeling that my brain immediately knew was something else. In a panic, I told my girl to get me some peroxide, or Clorox to was off my feet. I had hardly finished talking to her, when she asked: "What is that horrible smell." One look at my foot, and she immediately knew. She left the bedroom door, and I heard her scream. I asked what was the matter, and she said that she wasn't sure if she should call a carpet cleaner, or a carpet dealer. I looked out and our wall-to-wall carpet was a minefield. I told her, "Call the dealer, this condition looks terminal." I could never get the stench out of my car, even with new upholstery. I could never get the stench out of my house, even after $5000 worth of new carpet. And to make the matter worse, I couldn't think of who to sue.
We spent the next week in a Holiday Inn. My girl was worried that our house would get broken into and our art collection would be stolen. I told her that we could keep Rommel for another week, and she said, "Let them steal it." Fortunately for Rommel, my best friend was an animal lover, and he took Rommel off of my hands. He must have experienced a similar blitzkrieg of defecation, because the next morning, he called me and told me of a similar night of hell. He took Rommel to the vet, and he had a disease called coccxadidyosis.
Earlier, in Rommel's new home, my friend told me that when the priest came over to speak to his mother-in-law the previous evening, Rommel developed a morbid attachment to him. It got so bad, that Rommel would only sleep in their bedroom at night, and it was a crapshoot whether he would decorate the floor.
I am sure that many dog owners have stories much worse than this. Unless you can afford a kennel keeper full-time, know what you are going to be in for. Even great dogs sometimes make mistakes. A wee bit of urine on a fine Persian carpet could devalue it by $500 or more. Even if the dog is good, they have a smell about them that could gag a maggot. They are also constantly needing medical attention. If they have to go on something like dialysis, it could cost you thousands a year. Or, as Rommel turned out, the dogs could need psychiatric care. More often than not, the owner of the dog eventually is the one needing to see a psychiatrist.
Dogs dominate your entire life. You want to go on vacation, where do you put the dog? My wife found a place that is like the Ritz for dogs. For $100 a day, they would assign a person to entertain your dog at this K-9 Ritz Carlton. They will even bring the phone to the dog's kennel, so you can whisper sweet nothings into his ear. All in all, don't ever forget the financial and emotional liabilities that are involved with owning a dog. Not to mention the civil torts that can be brought against owners of mischievous dogs. Wear and tear on personal property. In my friends case, after Rommel vented his final spleen by chewing through his air conditioner condenser, not even the freon could chill that dog. If you are married with children, don't believe that the kids will take care of the dog. If you shelter one of these mindless carnivores long enough, they will inevitably cost you thousands in repairs and health care for your family, or anyone else your dog has taken a chunk out of. A worst case scenario is developing a life threatening allergy to your family pet. Our head watchmaker's daughter passed away after going in to a dog-induced allergic anaphylactic shock. Remember, there is no Medicare for dogs. Better you put your money to a Rolex. Amen.
Anyway, it has been about 15 years since I brought my dogs out here to Georgia, and today I had the sad duty to put one to sleep. My wife and I would gladly pay $50,000 to restore my dog's health. But sadly you can't. If you don't have a dog, you won't understand. One of the major faults with dogs is that they have the annoying proclivity that doesn't allow them to outlive us.